Domestic Violence: Why is it Rarely Reported?

Posted by Omar Abdelghany | Jul 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

Domestic Violence: Why is it Rarely Reported?

Domestic violence is mainly characterized by the relationship the two parties who are experiencing the altercation share. All criminal legal issues involve intense emotions, but dealing with the combination of a family or romantic relationship and the judicial system can be overwhelming. 

Clearly, the relationship of the parties to one another is one reason domestic violence is infrequently reported, but studies have found other reasons, as well. 

It is estimated that about half of all domestic violence incidents are actually reported to police. Some of the more common reasons people do not report domestic violence are because the parties involved feel that the incident is a personal or private matter. In other cases, those involved in an incident could fear retaliation from their partner or family member. Finally, many people who have experienced domestic violence simply believe that reporting it will not matter because the police will not help.  

Even with reporting of domestic violence events at 50%, domestic violence calls still constitute about half of all violent crime calls to police departments. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has reported that law enforcement officers are responding to the majority of domestic violence calls quickly - within 10 minutes or less

This long-term study by BJS also discovered that an average of 582,000 nonfatal domestic violence incidents were not reported every year. Diving into why that is, the report found that in about 32% of these unreported cases, parties involved in the incident mostly cited the personal or intimate nature of the incident as a reason for not calling the police to intervene. 

Additionally, some domestic violence incidents were not reported because one party wanted to protect the other from prosecution, the parties felt the crime was minor, or in some cases, one party feared retribution for reporting the domestic violence incident.  

If you are facing charges related to a domestic violence incident, and have questions about how to move forward, consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney today

Who can Experience Domestic Violence? 

Partners of both sexes can be victims of domestic violence as well as any others living in the household. Domestic violence can happen no matter a person's age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, wealth, or geographical location. 

The commonly accepted narrative is that domestic violence is perpetrated by a man and inflicted upon a woman. This gender bias can lead to underreporting of domestic violence incidents suffered by men. 

Do Children Experience Domestic Violence? 

Children can be affected by domestic violence if they are in close proximity to these altercations. While not all children are equally affected or negatively impacted, some children show signs of stress or develop their own coping strategies. 

A child's age, experience, prior trauma history, and temperament can all affect how that child might react to a domestic violence incident. Some factors that can influence a child's response to domestic violence include the severity of the violence, the child's perspective of the violence, the child's relationships with parents or the parties involved in the domestic violence incident. 

Having children in the home and making the effort to protect those children can lead to underreporting of domestic violence incidents. If one or both of the parties involved in a domestic violence dispute are the biological parents of a child in the home, then it can be difficult to disrupt the child's life by involving law enforcement officers and the judicial system. 

Additionally, reporting domestic violence when a child is in the home could open the door for child welfare social workers to enter your home and judge your ability to properly care for the child. 

If you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence and a child viewed or was involved in the incident, it is important to talk with an attorney who can help navigate any ancillary issues that might arise. 

Can Factors Outside the Home Affect Occurrences of Domestic Violence?

Bringing outside stressors into a living situation can impact the family dynamic. One common stressor for many families is money. While true that economic struggles do not cause domestic violence, having to face financial constraints can increase instances of violence. When a partner loses a job or if the bank forecloses on your home, emotions are already running high and even the simplest disagreement can escalate.  

Not only can external financial factors aggravate a situation, monetary reasons can also limit a person's ability to walk away from a negative situation. For example, a party involved in a domestic violence incident might not have the option to seek out another living situation due to lack of funds. It might also be difficult for people struggling with the effects of domestic violence to secure steady employment. 

Another factor that might lead to domestic violence incidents is the overuse or abuse or drugs or alcohol. Substances that can alter a person's behavior are dangerous when combined with a complex living arrangement and can set the stage for a violent outburst. Drugs and alcohol do not cause domestic violence, but their use could exacerbate and existing problem in the home. 

Even religion can influence the relationship dynamics of intimate partners. For example, one party may want to leave an unproductive relationship, but divorce is unavailable to the couple because of deeply held religious beliefs. 

What if a Domestic Violence Criminal Charge Stems From a False Accusation? 

Domestic violence charges should be and almost always are taken seriously by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges. Especially now that the #MeToo movement is encouraging everyone to “believe women,” the idea of a presumption of innocence is diminishing and the idea that a false accusation could lead to a courtroom battle is coming to fruition.   

Like a domestic violence event, false allegations of domestic violence can impact every part of an individual's life. Being falsely accused of domestic violence jeopardize your employment and end personal relationships with close friends. As serious as it is to protect those who have been abused in a domestic violence incident, it is equally as important to protect the reputation of those individuals who have been falsely accused. 

Contact the professionals at the OA Law Firm to navigate domestic violence charges or false claims made against you. We are ready to help.  

About the Author

Omar Abdelghany

Omar Abdelghany is a criminal defense attorney practicing in Tampa Bay, Florida and the surrounding area. He graduated cum laude from California Western School of Law in San Diego, California. He was admitted into the Florida Bar in 2013 and is also licensed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.


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